Phelps Mountain in the Spring

Yesterday I hiked Phelps, the 32nd highest peak in NY, for the second time. The first time I hiked this mountain was back in January 2014 with Jona. It was cold. Yesterday’s weather was much better! The temps were perfect. There was very little ice on the trail (only at higher elevations). It was a beautiful day.

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Brendan is my good friend and one of my hiking buddies. He’s working on the 46 also and we both wanted to hike this weekend. I need to get my legs in shape for summer high peaks hiking. Phelps is a short hike compared to the rest of the 46. It is about 9.5 miles round trip from the Adirondack Loj. I didn’t mind hiking it again because it has some great views. We started hiking at 10:45 am. We arrived at the junction at Marcy Dam at about 11:40. From there it was only 2.1 miles to the summit of Phelps.

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The Phelps junction is about a mile from Marcy Dam.

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It’s only about a mile, but it’s an “Adirondack mile”, or a mile that takes forever to hike since it is incredibly steep.

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Brendan with Mount Colden in the background.

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Oh hey, it’s Mount Marcy. Haystack to the left?

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All together now.
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It was great to sit on the summit and enjoy the sunshine. The last time I was up here, it was 40 below and my mittens froze. We arrived at the summit around 1:30.

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Phelps was Brendan’s 20th peak. Almost halfway!

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A man from Vermont was on the summit also. He’d just recently started hiking in the Adirondacks. “Have you been on all of these mountains?” he asked me. I could say yes! All but a few. We could see Saddleback and Basin–I’ve yet to tackle those! But all of the other surrounding peaks I’ve been on. Below is one of my favorite views. Mount Colden is on the left with Algonquin and Wright across from it on the right side. The first time I was on the summit of Phelps, I couldn’t name the peaks. Now I know them pretty well.

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We started heading down around 2:00.

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Spring has sprung in the High Peaks. I cannot wait for summer hiking!

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We got back to Marcy Dam at 4:20.

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Back at the parking lot around 5:30.

Phelps Mountain
Distance: 9.5 mi RT
Elevation: 4,161 ft
Ascent: 2,149 ft
Total time: 6 hrs, 37 minutes (including stops)

Gear used
Kelty trekking poles, Osprey Sirrus day pack, Keen Durand hiking boots, Smartwool hiking socks, tasc performance bamboo district pant, Icebreaker merino baselayer top

Spruce Mountain Firetower

When attending the last metabolism class of the semester (or ever) became optional yesterday, my good friend from school Krista and I decided to hike Spruce Mountain. Located just outside Saratoga in Corinth, it was a quick one hour drive from Troy.

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The trail itself was great-not too rocky and not too steep. It would be great for beginners!

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In about 36 minutes we were at the summit. Unfortunately there are no views unless you climb the tower.

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I think the tower itself is fairly new. There are windows inside that provide protection from the wind.

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It was a great little hike!

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Spruce Mountain Fire Tower
Distance 2.8 mi RT
Time 1 hr, 11 minutes
Elevation 2,009ft
Ascent 1,012ft

Gear used Gregory Pace 5 hydration pack, Salomon Pro Sense trail running shoes

The trailhead is located on the dead end of Spruce Mountain Road.

Find It

Kane Mountain Firetower

I recently hiked Kane Mountain in Fulton County, about an hour and 15 minutes outside of Albany. It’s a nice little hike if you are looking to get outside and hit the trails. It has a decent view for minimal effort!

Jenna, Steve and I opted for the shortest route up and then took the longer trail back to make a nice loop.

There is a nice view from the top of the fire tower. I’d love to come up here for a sunset hike sometime. There is no real view from the summit unless you climb the tower.

There is a little cabin at the top that has been boarded up, but it seems people still go inside (and leave their trash behind!–which is sad).

Near the trail head there is a little pond and a creek.

Kane Mountain Fire Tower
Total Distance: 1.8 mi loop
Elevation: 2180′
Ascent: 600′

FIND IT

The trailhead is on the left.

2016 Syracuse Half Marathon

The Syracuse Half was the only race I had signed up for the duration of marathon training. Last year it was really well organized–but cold–and I enjoyed it. This year it was moved two weeks later to April, in hopes of having better weather! But, the joke was on us.

Saturday afternoon I picked up Jona and her friend Phil and we headed to Syracuse. The first stop was Fleet Feet to get our race shirts and bibs.

We checked into our hotel and had dinner at a vegan cafe next door to our hotel. The next morning, we woke up to this.

It’s not an April Fool’s joke, it’s spring in Upstate, NY. I have to say this was the first time I ever seriously considered DNS at a race. I did not want to run in the snow and 40 mph winds. Nope. But we sucked it up and got ready and started to head to the start line, which was a half a mile away from the hotel.

My feet were wet before the race even began.

Around miles 4-5 things got interesting. It started hailing! I was sopping wet and the front of my clothes got crusted with ice. My eyelashes froze and I had to keep wiping snow out of my eyes. In all the years I have been running, this was a first. These were the worst conditions I had ever run in, hands down.

Halfway through the race, I lost Jona. Then my iPhone froze and shut itself off. I had no music for the last half of the race–and I wanted to die! I overheard a woman say at the 15K point that if this were the Boilermaker, we’d be done. I laughed out loud and said, “I’d rather be running this–I hate the Boilermaker!” Still true.

I shuffled along for the rest of the race. I was running so slow; my legs wouldn’t move. My feet were hurting from trying to constantly get traction in the snow and slush. It was painful. I crossed the finish line at 2:22. And I had never felt so hardcore and so proud of finishing a half marathon. It may have been my 25th half, but it was definitely one of the hardest.
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I am so glad I stuck it out and finished that race. I earned that medal! I also earned the post-race beverages we had at Empire Brewing. 😀

Nutrition Spotlight: Beets

Beets don’t get enough credit, in my opinion! They are the vegetable that I usually forget about, until I find something like beet hummus and become obsessed. Beets are great if you like that rich, earthy flavor.

Not only do they add great color to any dish, one cup of beets contains about 60 calories and 4 grams of fiber. They are a good source of the minerals copper and magnesium and have 148 µg of folate, or 37% of your daily target. Folate is an extremely important vitamin because it plays a crucial role in DNA synthesis. Beets  are also fat free. The greens can even be cooked and are extremely high in vitamin K, which is essential for blood health as it plays an important role in blood clotting. The greens are also high in vitamins A, C, B-2, and E, as well as copper, potassium, manganese and magnesium.

 One thing you might have heard about beets is that they are gaining popularity as an ergogenic aid, or something that is said to improve sports performance. Beet juice is rich in nitrates. In the body, nitrate is converted to nitric oxide, which plays an important role in blood and oxygen flow. (Not to be confused with nitrites in processed meats–when these compounds are exposed to high heat in the presence of protein, they can turn into compounds called nitrosamines–a possible cancer causing agent. This is a good post about the differences between the two.) But the nitric oxide from beets is different.

The theory is that consuming beetroot juice before hard workouts improves performance and delays muscle fatigue. The research I looked at was inconclusive–some articles say nitric oxide improves performance, while other articles found that it didn’t. Whether it helps or not, beets are still super healthy and are a great addition to your diet.

Beets can be boiled to make removing the skin easier. They can be peeled, chopped and roasted. They can be added to salads. Beets can also add an amazing red color to anything if you are looking for a natural food dye. Red velvet cake anyone?

Here are some recipes using beets that I have been meaning to try. Right now, my favorite is beet hummus. I cannot get enough and I’m going to try to make my own soon using the below recipe for beet and tahini dip.

Beet and Tahini Dip

Roasted Beets with Moroccan Spices

Baked Rosemary Beet Chips

Beet It Juice

What is your favorite way to eat beets?